Do you love God? We can understand this also by looking at your love for your neighbor.
According to Vatican News, Pope Francis stressed this during his daily morning Mass at Casa Santa Marta as he reflected on today’s First Reading (1 John 4:19-5,4), which speaks of “worldliness.”
John, the Holy Father acknowledged, speaks of the “struggle every day “ against the spirit of the world, which is “a spirit of appearance,” “lying.” “The spirit of the world is the spirit of vanity, which has no strength, no foundation” and decays.” Lies are “full of air,” he said.
“He who doesn’t love his brother, whom he sees, cannot love God, whom he doesn’t see,” writes John. The Holy Father explained that it’s about loving “what you see, what you can touch, and not the fantasies that you don’t see. “
“If you can’t love God in the concrete, it’s not true that you love God. The spirit of the world is a spirit of division, and when it interferes in a family, in a community, in a society, it always creates divisions — always.”
The divisions, he continued, grow and end in hatred and war. “John,” Francis observed, “goes beyond, and says: ‘if someone says, ‘I love God,” when he hates his brother, he is a liar,’ that is, a child of the spirit of the world, which is pure lie, pure appearance,” he added.
And Pope Francis asked: “Do I love God? Let’s go to the touchstone and see how you love your brother.” He stressed three signs that indicate one doesn’t love one’s neighbor. “The first sign . . . do I pray for people? For all concrete people for those that I like and those that I don’t like, those that are my friends and those that aren’t?”
“Second sign,” he continued. “When I feel in me sentiments of jealousy, of envy, and there comes to me the desire to wish someone ill . . . it’s a sign that you don’t love. Stop there. Don’t let these feelings grow — they are dangerous.”
“Don’t let them grow,” he said.
And then the most daily sign that I don’t love my neighbor, and therefore that I can’t say that I love God, is gossiping,” stressed the Holy Father. Let’s get this clear in our heart and in our head: if I gossip, I don’ love God, because by gossiping I destroy a person. Gossiping is like honey sweets . . . one leads to another and then another and the stomach becomes sick . . . because it’s “sweet” to gossip . . . but it destroys.”
For the Pope, a person who stops gossiping “is very close to God because, not to gossip is to “protect my neighbor, to protect God in my neighbor.
“The spirit of the world is overcome by the spirit of faith: to believe that God is truly in my brother and my sister. It’s only with much faith that one can undertake this path, not with human thoughts of common sense . . . , no, no, they are useless.”
They help, he admitted, “but not for this fight.”
“Only faith,” Pope Francis concluded, “will give us the strength not to gossip, to pray for everyone, including our enemies and not to let our feelings of jealousy and envy grow.”